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 A Valentine Surprise

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Little House Lady
Little House Lady

Number of posts : 2749

PostSubject: A Valentine Surprise   Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:26 pm

I just finished writing a Valentine story and I wanted to share it, hopefully at both forums if I can get into the other one today, LOL. So these are the first 2 chapters, and I'll try to post the rest of it before Wednesday, hopefully I'll get the chance to get on the forum often enough between then. Please tell me what you think if you get a chance to read it; I promise there are multiple surprises towards the end! Cool

A Valentine Surprise

Chapter 1


The bell at Walnut Grove’s school rang loudly on a cold February morning. Albert Ingalls stood up from where he’d been sitting on the school steps and picked up his books, along with those of Belinda Stevens, who had been sitting with him. He grabbed her hand to pull her to her feet and out of the way of the children who rushed up the stairs past them.

“Thanks,” Belinda said with a smile, as they walked slowly up the steps together.

Albert couldn’t help but smile back at her. He and Belinda were very close, but he couldn’t say he was her beau. Or even if he wanted to be. They had become friends months before when Belinda had first moved to Walnut Grove. At the time, Albert had just lost the girl he planned to marry, Sylvia Webb, when she was tragically killed. Belinda had been the one who ended up helping him the most through that hard time and he was grateful to her. She had showed him to open his heart and that it was okay to care for other people again, despite what had happened to Sylvia. But he wasn’t sure exactly how he cared for Belinda – he knew she was very important to him and maybe, just maybe, he even liked her a little. He was happy around her, and definitely enjoyed spending time with her. He had even taken her to several church socials, but their relationship had remained one of friendship. Albert couldn’t always tell what Belinda was thinking in those situations, if she liked him and wanted to be more than friends. But since he himself wasn’t always sure how he felt, maybe that was okay.

There was a Valentine’s Day dance coming up in less than a full week, and Albert wanted to take her to it. Somehow though, he couldn’t bring himself to ask. The last event they had gone to together was the Church Christmas Party, and even though it was a cold December night, they had spent part of the time outside talking, away from the crowd of people inside the church building. It was that night that he first began wondering about his feelings, and if they were changing from friendship into something more. He couldn’t say for sure one way or the other, and at times, he was nervous to think of what could happen. He didn’t want to risk losing the friendship he had come to rely on and appreciate so much over the last year.

“Albert?” Belinda asked quietly.

“What?” he asked. They had reached the school room and were taking off their coats.

“I said, thanks for carrying my books, but I kind of need them now that we’re inside.” She laughed.

“Oh! Sorry.” Handing her books back to her, Albert blushed. “I was just thinking is all.”

Belinda looked at him curiously. “About what?”

“Nothing,” he mumbled, feeling nervous at the thought of inviting her to the dance. How did these feelings creep up on him so?

As Belinda walked past him into the classroom, quickly before he could lose his nerve, Albert reached out and caught her arm gently. “Belinda,” he whispered as they stood in the corridor, “Do you want to go to Valentine’s Day Dance with me?”

Belinda’s smile lit up her whole face. “Of course I do. Thanks for inviting me,” she added in a hasty whisper. Still holding her arm, Albert led her into the classroom.

“Albert Ingalls,” the school teacher, and Albert’s sister Laura Wilder, called out. “You’ve just been marked late. I’m at K,” she said, referring to checking attendance for the day.

“Sorry,” Albert muttered, hurrying to his seat across from Belinda’s. When Laura saw Belinda behind him, she smiled ever so slightly. But she kept her voice stern. “Don’t let it happen again.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Albert promised.

After Laura finished taking attendance, she stood up from her desk. “Class,” she said. “We have a new student joining us today. Nathan White, would you come up here please?” A brown-haired boy from the second-to-last row of seats stood up then, and slowly walked down the aisle. Laura smiled encouragingly at him. “Nathan’s joining us Springfield. I hope you’ll make him feel welcome.”

“Welcome, Nathan!” The class said then, and Laura sent him back to his.

“He looks about my age,” Albert’s brother, James, whispered from beside him. James was about eleven, and was a friendly boy, always looking to make new friends. “Maybe he’ll want to play ball with us at recess.”

“Maybe,” Albert whispered back.

“Okay, I want everybody to get out their McGuffys,” Laura said, from the front of the room. “We’re going to start a new chapter today. Nancy, would you please begin reading from page sixty-eight for us?”

When silence followed, Laura glanced up from her book. “Nancy? Nancy Oleson?”

Startled, the young girl turned her head to the front of the room. Her blonde curls bounced as she moved. “Yes, Mrs. Wilder?” she asked sweetly. Nancy was always the picture of politeness to her teacher, but to everyone else, she was quite a handful. She was the adopted daughter of Nels and Harriet Oleson, who owned the mercantile in town, and she was spoiled rotten. Nancy always got her way, and she didn’t take very well to being told “no”.

That morning though, the new boy, Nathan, had caught her attention. She had turned from her seat to watch him curiously, and smile her legendary fake smile.

“Page sixty-eight,” Laura said a bit impatiently. “Would you read for us?”

“Read what?” Nancy said, confused. Around her, the other students giggled. “It isn’t funny!” Nancy snapped angrily.

“Page sixty-eight in your McGuffy,” Laura said again. “Now, please.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Nancy paged through her book and stood up, carefully smoothing out the skirt of her dress. She hoped Nathan realized it was ordered from the catalogue and cost five dollars.

Chapter 2

“I wish my dress had red flowers on it like yours,” Carrie Ingalls complained to her sister Cassandra that afternoon, as the girls sat outside during recess.

“Why?” Cassandra asked. “Yours is just as pretty.”

“Yes, but yours is perfect for the Valentine’s Day dance next week.”

Cassandra smiled. “It doesn’t matter, who’s going to dance with me? Besides James, that is.”

“You never know,” Carrie said. “Another boy could ask you.”

“I doubt it,” Cassandra answered. “I just want to have fun at the dance. Besides, we can dance with each other.”

Carrie smiled at her sister, who was also her best friend. “Deal.”

“He - hello?” A shaky voice called from behind them. The girls turned to see Doug Jenkins, another of their classmates, looking a bit nervous.

“Hi, Doug,” Carrie answered him.

Doug seemed taken aback at Carrie’s answering him. “Hi,” he said, then focused his attention on Cassandra. “Cassandra, I was wondering if you’d like to go to the Valentine’s Day dance with me.”

Cassandra blushed a shade of red that equally matched the flowers on her dress. “Um…um,” she stuttered.

“Say yes!” Carrie hissed, cupping her hand in front of her mouth so Doug wouldn’t see.

“Yes,” Cassandra said finally, a smile coming to her face. “Um, I mean, yes, thank you for asking me.”

“No problem. I mean, great. I mean, see you at the dance. And in school.” Doug laughed nervously.

“Okay,” Cassandra. As Doug ran off, she casually picked up an apple from the lunch pail.

“Cassandra!” Carrie exclaimed excitedly. “A boy’s invited you to the dance!”

“Ma and Pa probably wouldn’t let me anyway. I’m only nine,” Cassandra said reasonably. “But it was nice of him to ask.”

“Ma and Pa won’t mind you dancing with him. Laura and Mary danced with boys at church socials when they were your age. Aren’t you excited?”

Cassandra’s cheeks were turning red again. “Yeah,” she admitted. “But I’ve never talked to a boy, besides James and Albert. What do I say?”

“The same thing you’d say to anyone else,” Carrie encouraged. She was excited for her sister, but inside, she felt disappointed. She felt bad for feeling that way, but she just couldn’t help it. Now she was going to the dance alone, and she wouldn’t even have Cassandra to talk to all night. Cassandra had Doug, Albert had Belinda, James would find many girls to dance with; he always did since he was so outgoing and friendly, and Ma and Pa would have each other. Carrie would have to sit and watch baby Grace all night. Why did she always have to be the one left out?

I'm sorry that the first chapter was especially long, I promise it picks up in the few to follow - it's not a very long story. Thanks for reading Wave

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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Little House Lady
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Tue Feb 13, 2007 12:55 am

Hey, everyone. I've noticed the story had several views but no comments :( I know that this section of the forum isn't frequented as often as the Fan Fiction section on the old forum, but I will post the next 2 chapters and if no one is interested in it by then, I'll stop taking up thread space with it, LOL.

Chapter 3

Laura Wilder hurriedly set the kitchen table in her home as the front door opened. “Hi, Manly!” she called to her husband, Almanzo, by the nickname she had given him many years before.

“Evenin’, Beth,” he said, as he placed his head on the hook beside the door. “What smells so good?”

“Cinnamon chicken,” Laura answered, bringing the plate of steaming chicken to the table. “I’ll get it served while you wash up.”

“Thank you.” As he passed his wife, Almanzo paused to kiss her gently. “How was your day?” he asked.

“Good,” Laura answered. “There’s a new boy at school. Nancy Oleson had eyes for him from the minute I introduced him to the class.”
“Uh oh,” Almanzo said, as he dried his hands with the towel beside the wash bowl.

“Yes. But she didn’t talk to him, far as I could tell. And Cassandra ran inside after recess to tell me that a boy invited her to the Valentine dance next week. She was so excited!” Laura glowed as she spoke of her little sister. “I wish I could be there tonight at supper to see the look on Pa’s face when she tells him!”

Almanzo settled into his chair across the table from Laura. “If it’s anything like the looks he used to give me, I’d run and hide if I were that boy.” He winked at her as he tucked his napkin into his shirt.

“Well, lucky for you, you didn’t run and hide, else wise no one would be making you cinnamon chicken the way I do.”

“That’s true,” Almanzo admitted. “I don’t know if I could live without it.”

Laura giggled. “Oh!” She exclaimed. “Not that it’s any big surprise, but I almost forgot to tell you – Albert’s taking Belinda Stevens to the dance.”

“So?” Almanzo asked around a mouthful of chicken. “They’ve gone to a few socials together, haven’t they?”

“Yes, but the fact that they’re still going to them together and spending so much time together – they’re always together at school – is a good thing.”

“Now Beth,” Almanzo said, “Why is it you’re so concerned with this Albert – and – Belinda thing? He told ya they’re just friends.”

“Well, you and I started off as friends,” Laura pointed out logically. “I know he’s happy with her. I know he likes her too, he’s just afraid to admit it – even to himself. He’s just afraid of getting hurt again; he doesn’t realize that he’s being hurt by not giving Belinda a chance.”

“Well, I’m sure if that’s the case – if he really does feel like you think he does – he’ll come around. If it’s meant to be.”

Laura sighed deeply. “I just want him to be happy.”

“I know you do,” Almanzo took her hand in his own. “He’s lucky to have such a caring older sister. Now,” he said, his voice lightening, “About this Valentine’s dance. I don’t know a girl in all of Hero Township that would go with me; do you know of where I can find one?”

Her husband’s playfulness was contagious; Laura couldn’t help but play along herself. “No, I don’t,” she answered seriously. “You’ll just have to stand off to the side by yourself. With Nancy Oleson.”
They both laughed. “Eat your chicken before it gets cold,” Laura admonished him.

Almanzo picked up his fork again. “So how about it, Beth?”

“How about what?”

“How about you go to the dance with me?”

Laura laughed again. “Okay, but only because I feel sorry for you.”

“Well, you certainly know the way to a man’s heart,” Almanzo joked.

“Yes, through his stomach. Through the cinnamon chicken!”

Almanzo leaned over and kissed his wife again, surprising her this time. “I love ya, Beth.”

She smiled up at him. “I love you, too.”

Chapter 4

Nancy Oleson stood in front of the mirror in the water closet the next morning. She had to make sure her hair looked exactly right. As she stepped back and surveyed herself one last time before going to school, she decided she looked perfect. There was no way Nathan wouldn’t pay attention to her once he saw her brand new hair ribbon and Sunday dress. Maybe he would even ask Nancy to the Valentine dance today. That was her plan; to get him to notice her before next Wednesday and invite her to the dance.

As she clamored down the stairs, she stopped to take some licorice from one of the jars on the counter. Boys loved licorice; she would give some to Nathan at recess. Her father watched her cautiously. “Why are you wearing your Sunday dress to school?”

“Because it’s the nicest one of all my dresses.”

“It’s only for church and special occasions. It cost a pretty penny,” Nels told her seriously. “I think you should wear something else.”

Nancy banged her books on the counter and glared at him. “I want to wear this one.”

“Nancy – ” Before Nels could even finish his thought, Nancy screamed, “Motherrrr!”

Nels winced at the sound of her high-pitched voice. Harriet appeared in the doorway between the store and the house. “Yes, what is it, precious?”

“Father won’t let me wear this dress to school! He wants me to look as ugly as all the other poor children running around.”

“Nancy!” Nels scolded. “I won’t have you speaking like that of other children. It’s cruel and –”

“Well, Nels, she’s only saying it like she sees it,” Harriet cut in. “A lot of the children go to school in tatters. Our little girl is more fortunate than that.”

“Yes, she is, and she doesn’t even realize it.”

“You hate me, father!” Nancy cried, angry at being held up from going to school. “You hate me.”

Exasperated, Nels threw down the cloth he was using to tidy up the store.

“Oh, there, there.” Harriet held her daughter in an embrace. “Your father doesn’t hate you; he loves you more than anything in the world. Don’t you, Nels?”

“That’s a bit much,” he mumbled under his breath.

“What?” Harriet asked loudly.

“I said, oh so much.” Nels sighed. “I just don’t want anything happening to that dress – it cost a fortune.”

“Oh, she’ll be careful in it, won’t you, honey?” Harriet looked down at her daughter.

“Of course I will,” she replied.

“There, you see? All’s well that ends well.” Laughing, Harriet kissed the top of Nancy’s head. “Now, run along, precious.”

Nels sighed as he watched Nancy run out the door, trailed slightly be her older brother Willie. It’s going to be another long day.

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Tue Feb 13, 2007 5:53 pm

Wave No, please post the rest of your story here Christina. I haven't had time to read it, but I have it on my mind to do so! reader

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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Tue Feb 13, 2007 6:05 pm

I read it and I loved it !!!
You just have to post the rest of the story. It would be a wonderful valentine surprise...
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Feb 14, 2007 12:49 am

reader Oh Christina, this is such a good story! Applause
I'm excited for Albert & Belinda! Love
You really capture the characters really well... the scenes with Nancy make me laugh. I also love reading how Laura & Almanzo are playful with each other. :haha:
Loved it, please continue! Type

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Little House Lady
Little House Lady

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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:49 am

Thanks for reading :) I really appreciate your feedback as well. I know it's a lot to read, especially now that I'm going to add the last 9 chapters, LOL. I wrote it over the weekend and wanted to post it in installments, but I figured that since it's Valentine's Day, I kind of defeat the purpose of not getting it up in time. Please let me know what you think when you have time to - I really wasn't sure with the way some of the "surprises" turned out! Wave

Chapter 6

On Saturday, the Ingalls children had gathered around the table to work on their studies. Caroline sat in her rocking chair, busily working on a sewing project.

Restlessly, Carrie glanced out the window. It was a cloudy day, and the wind whipped furiously. The day matches my mood, Carrie thought. Still feeling left out, she now felt embarrassed about standing alone at the dance. Now even Nancy Oleson was likely to have someone to dance with her – she had been following Nathan White around ever since he came to Walnut Grove. Carrie couldn’t bear the thought of sitting out all night long. The idea churned her stomach; all she wanted was to be included, same as her brothers and sister. She was working so hard not to cry that she didn’t even notice her mother calling her name.

“Carrie?” Charles asked, from the head of the table. “Your Ma’s calling you, darlin.’”

“I’m sorry, Ma,” Carrie said, turning to face her mother.

“It’s okay. Come with me.” Caroline led her into the bedroom, where she unfolded what she had been working on all morning on the bed. It was Carrie’s Sunday dress, but Caroline had scrubbed it til the fabric looked almost as bright as it had when she had first worn it. The cuffs of the sleeves and neckline had been replaced also, with new, fancy pink lace. The old, worn buttons on the front were now gone and in their place were brand new, shiny ones. Carrie knew her mother must have spent a lot of money on the lace and buttons.

“Oh, Ma,” she breathed. “You re-worked my Sunday dress. It’s beautiful!” She reached out and touched the brown fabric gently, running her fingers over the little pink flowers on a brown background. “You didn’t have to spend so much money and time on me.”

Caroline smiled at her middle daughter. “You’ve been doing so well in school lately; you deserve it. And I thought you might like something special to wear to the Valentine dance.”

At the thought of the dance, Carrie’s heart starting pounding again. She had forgotten how she had been feeling just a few moments earlier.

“Are you all right?” Caroline asked, her voice filled of concern.

“Yes.” Carrie’s voice was tight. “I – I just wasn’t thinking about the dance.”

“I thought you were looking forward to it,” Caroline inquired gently.

“I was, but – but –” No longer able to hold them back, tears sprung to Carrie’s eyes and began to spill over.

“Oh, sweetheart, what is it?” Caroline sat on the bed, pulling Carrie beside her. “What’s wrong?”

“Everyone is going to the dance with someone.” Carrie’s words tumbled out in a rush. “Everyone will have someone but me. Even Nancy Oleson. I don’t want to be alone all night,” she cried. “I was so excited but then it seemed like everyone was being invited and I was the only one left out. So – so I don’t even want to go anymore.”

Caroline hugged her daughter tightly. “It’s all right, sweetheart. It’ll be all right.” She pulled away to look Carrie in the eyes. “Not everyone will have a partner, you’ll see. And your Pa will dance with you, and James too.”

“It’s not the same,” Carrie insisted. “It’s nice, but it’s not the same as having a boy ask you to dance.”

“There’s still time before next week. Someone may still ask you,” Caroline pointed out sensibly. “Or maybe there’s a boy that wants to, but is waiting to ask you right at the dance.”

“Maybe,” Carrie echoed, but Caroline could tell she wasn’t convinced.

“Well, there’s no use in worrying about it over the weekend when you’re not seeing your friends at school. Or when I’m about to make some warm milk with cinnamon. Come on out into the kitchen and I’ll fix you some.”

Carrie knew her mother meant well, but she just didn’t understand. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and swallowed hard. “Okay, Ma.”

Chapter 7

Nancy could barely wait for church to be over that Sunday. She fidgeted in her seat more often than usual; on most Sundays, she tried to sit perfectly still and be the picture of attentiveness but she really didn’t listen to Reverend Alden’s sermons. It was boring, and besides, the church was filled with so many people that it made it hot and stuffy, even on cold winter mornings. But today, Nancy was waiting eagerly for the end so her mother could invite the Whites to supper.

Once Hester-Sue Terhune had sung the closing hymn, Nancy tugged at mother’s sleeve. “Ask them now, Mother!” she hissed.

“Yes, let’s go outside, darling.” Harriet led her daughter out of the church. Since Nancy had already pointed out the White family, Harriet had no trouble picking them out of the crowd. “Yoo hoo, Mrs. White?” she called.

The short, blonde-haired lady smiled at her. “Yes?”

“My name’s Harriet Oleson – uh, my husband and I own the mercantile?”

“Oh, yes. I’m Sarah White and this is my husband, Nathan. And our son, Nathan Junior, and that there’s our daughter Jenny.” Jenny smiled politely but Nathan glanced at his mother warily. He wondered why Mrs. Oleson was talking to his family.

“How do you do?” Politely, Harriet shook hands with Sarah and Nathan Senior before continuing, “I’m sure you’ve heard about the social on Valentine’s Day evening, here at the church?”

“Why, yes, we were fixing on going.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful, dear. I actually was hoping to invite your family to our house for supper right before. To welcome you to Walnut Grove.”

Sarah clasped her hands together. “Well, that sounds lovely. Doesn’t it, Nat?” she asked her husband.

“I do believe so,” he answered. “Thank ya kindly, ma’am.”

“Yes, yes,” Harriet answered. “So, we’ll expect you at six? The dance begins at seven.”

“That’s fine. Thank you,” Sarah agreed.

“You’re welcome, dear. See you on Wednesday!” Harriet called out triumphantly, wagging her fingers at them. Then, she turned back to her family – Nels, who watched in dismay, Willie, who watched the other people walking by in boredom, and Nancy – who jumped up and down in excitement. She ran to her mother then. “Oh, thank you, Mother!”

“You’re welcome, darling,” Harriet answered as they began walking towards their home. “Now, I think we should have a roast for supper with the Whites, don’t you, Nels?”

“Whatever you say, dear,” Nels answered.

“Good. I’m sure you’ll do well with it.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re cooking the roast!” Harriet said, exasperated.

“Why am I cooking the roast? It was your idea to have these people over, why don’t you do the cooking?”

“Because,” Harriet explained, “I have the store to take care of. Now, come along, children.”

For a moment, Nels lingered behind them, wondering if anyone would notice if he slipped away to the restaurant. It wasn’t open Sundays, but he could clean up a bit. That seemed like a better idea than going home.

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:50 am

Chapter 8

As the day of the dance grew closer, the young citizens of Walnut Grove all waited in anticipation. Albert spent nearly an hour after school at Olesons’ mercantile, trying to find something that he could afford to buy Belinda. He wanted to give her flowers, but since it was February, the only flowers to be found were the ones Mr. Oleson was selling for give cents each. Albert had forty cents saved up, but wasn’t about to waste it on flowers that he could get for free if the weather was cooperative. Besides, they would only last a day or two. But there wasn’t much else he could afford. Finally, he decided to buy one flower, and with the leftover money, a long, silk red ribbon. He planned to tie it in a bow around the flower, and after the dance was over, Belinda could keep the ribbon for her hair.

James wasn’t much for dancing, but he liked going to town gatherings where he could be with his friends. He planned on dancing with his sister Carrie, since no one had asked her, and he knew she was feeling badly about it. Despite her nervousness, Cassandra was excited about being asked to the dance by a boy, but tried to not act so much so in front of her sister, Carrie. She knew that Carrie was still sad about not being invited by a boy herself, and that she worried about being left out.

Caroline’s advice about another boy possibly asking Carrie was sound, but so far, it hadn’t happened. By Wednesday afternoon, Carrie had given up hope. She wished fervently that she could stay home from the dance, but she knew if she even asked, her mother wouldn’t let her stay alone and would end up staying home herself. Carrie didn’t want to ruin her parents’ good time. So she tried her best not to show her feelings at home.

Nancy, on the other hand, was completely beside herself as she dressed later that evening. She was sure that Nathan would have asked her to the dance by now, especially after she’d brought him a candy apple to school the day before. His shyness was frustrating, but Nancy had it set in her mind that as soon as his family took supper with them that evening, he would come around. So she paid extra special attention as she put on her brand new dress. It was one her mother had ordered out of the catalogue for her several weeks earlier and it had arrived on Monday, just in time for the dance. Nancy smiled at her reflection in the looking glass in her room. Her new dress was a pale pink color, embroidered with tiny white flowers. The skirt was full and the sleeves and collar were lined with bright, white lace. “Perfect,” Nancy said aloud. Then she ran down the stairs.

“Mother!” she called.

“In here, darling,” Harriet called from the parlor. Nancy found her sitting in an armchair by the window.

“How do I look?”

“Oh, you look just beautiful, precious. Beautiful,” Harriet responded.

“I know.” Nancy grinned. “It’s almost six; they’ll be here any minute!”

“Yes, yes, darling, I’m just about finished getting supper ready.”

“I oughta know,” Nels called from the kitchen, where he was placing the roast on a serving platter and the mashed potatoes in a large bowl.

Harriet turned her head towards him in disgust. “What?”

“I said, if you say so. Dear,” he replied, carrying the platter to the dining room. “Everything’s all ready,” he said, as Willie thundered down the stairs, and stopped in the doorway.

“Boy, that roast smells good. When can we eat? I’m starved!”

“Don’t you eat a thing til Nathan gets here!” Nancy snapped.

Willie smiled menacingly at his sister. “Wonder who he’s planning on dancing with tonight.”

“You shut up, Willie Oleson!” Nancy cried out, as a knock sounded at the door. “That’s them!” She screamed.

Willie, who was closest to the door, reached for the doorknob but Nancy dashed in front of him, swatted his hand out of the way and opened the door herself. “Good evening,” she said, curtseying. “Hello, Nathan,” she smiled widely as the White family stepped into her parlor.

“Hi,” he said uncertainly.

“Hey, Nathan,” Willie said from behind Nancy. Nathan relaxed a little once he saw him. “Hi, Willie,” he answered.

“What a lovely home you have!” Sarah exclaimed, turning in a circle to take in the entire room.

“Oh, yes,” Harriet answered. “Thank you for coming. Won’t you come sit down? Let me take your coats. Nels,” she called to her husband, who was introducing himself to Nathan Senior. “Their coats.”

Nels sighed. “Yes, dear.”

As the Whites removed their coats, Nancy noticed that Nathan was holding a large, white flower with dainty white cloth wrapped around its stem. It wasn’t like any of the flowers her father sold in the mercantile. She wondered where he had gotten it from, and more importantly, why he hadn’t offered it to her yet. As he nervously set it on the table beside the door, Nancy decided that he must be planning on giving it to her at the dance. She took his arm and led him into the dining room. “You can sit next to me, Nathan. Move, Willie!” she shouted at her brother as he sat in the seat she was heading for. Then she smiled warmly at Nathan. “I’m so excited about the dance,” she whispered.

Nathan tried to smile back. “Me, too.”

Chapter 9

At the Ingalls house, it was a flurry of motion as four children tried to get ready for the evening. Charles had Caroline took turns, as Caroline dressed Grace.

“Albert?” Charles called from the bedroom. “Are you meeting Belinda there?”

“No, I was gonna walk with her,” Albert answered. “Gosh, I better get going! I don’t want to be late.”

“Well, what if we just pick her up on the way? Be faster, especially since it’s so cold out.”

“Charles,” Caroline whispered, “They might want some privacy.”

“I thought they were just friends,” Charles replied. He was surprised when Albert answered, “Uh…thanks, Pa, but I think we’ll be okay walking.”

Caroline smiled knowingly at her husband. He winked in return. “Why do I even try? You know best,” he teased.

“You’re right,” Caroline joked back. “Almost ready?”


“Good, I’ve got Grace dressed. We can go soon as the children are ready. Girls?” Caroline called up to the loft. “You need any help?”

“Can you tie my ribbons for me?” Cassandra called back.

As Caroline began to climb the stairs, Albert barreled down to the second step, jumped straight past her, and headed for the door. “Sorry, Ma. I just don’t want to be late. See you all there!”

“All right, be careful!” Caroline called back. In the loft, she took the ribbons Cassandra was holding out to her. As she tied it around her braids, she looked over towards Carrie, who was self consciously patting the skirt of her dress.

“You look lovely,” Caroline said enthusiastically.

“Thanks,” Carrie mumbled.

“Well, I think we’re finally all ready,” Caroline said, as she tied the last ribbon in place. “Let’s get going.”

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:50 am

Chapter 10

Despite their living three miles out of town, the Ingalls arrived at the dance before the Olesons. Lots of other folks were already there – Hester-Sue and Mrs. Foster were setting out trays of cakes and cookies on a desk in the back of the room, and Doc Baker, along with Reverend Alden and many others, had gathered in the center of the room.

“Hey, our music is here!” Doc exclaimed when he saw Charles.

Charles held up his fiddle. “I’m ready when you are.” As he set up in front of the room along with Mr. Hodgins, who played accordion, the children found friends to talk to. Doug greeted Cassandra and Carrie sat down beside her mother on the side of the room. Albert and Belinda arrived then, followed shortly after by her parents and grandmother.

Albert had wanted to leave before her family did so he could talk to her on the way, but the words he had wanted to say just wouldn’t come. Instead, they had walked in mostly silence, talking about school or their friends every once in awhile. She had loved the flower he’d gotten her, and Albert was glad. He even had held Belinda’s hand for the second half of the walk, and the thoughts in his head had swirled more than ever. But once they arrived at the church, the thoughts were pushed to the back of his mind as he held Belinda in his arms and twirled her to the music. All that mattered at that time was holding her close. He couldn’t help but smile every time he looked at her.

It was close to seven-thirty when the Olesons and Whites arrived. They would have been earlier, but Nancy had insisted on playing the piano and singing for them before they left. The Whites glanced around the church then, and excused themselves to meet some of the other townsfolk.

Nancy smiled broadly as everyone besides Nathan and herself walked away. She slipped her hand around his arm. “This is going to be a wonderful night,” she said, laying her head on his shoulder.

“I hope so,” Nathan said nervously. “Um, excuse me, Nancy.” As he walked away, Nancy wondered why he still hadn’t given her the flower. And where was he going? Then Nancy gasped in shock – he couldn’t! Could he?

Nancy watched, horrified, as Nathan walked straight up to Carrie Ingalls, who was sitting beside her mother on the side of the room. He handed her the flower, and speechlessly, she stared up at him.

“Would you like to dance with me, Carrie?” he asked.

“O-okay,” Carrie replied shakily, as she took his hand and got to her feet. They walked to the middle of the floor together to dance.

Nancy’s hands flew to her face as she struggled to hold back tears. She looked forlornly around the room for her mother, but saw her speaking to Mrs. Foster. It wouldn’t do any good to speak her anyway. All she would do was call Nathan a cad, and tell Nancy that he wasn’t good enough for her. Nancy didn’t want to hear it; she knew it was the other way around. No matter how hard she had ever tried, nobody had ever liked the real her. So instead of really giving them a chance, she hid her true thoughts at times and never told anyone how she really felt.

The tears began to fall and she turned quietly, and ran outside the building. No one would even know she was gone. Outside, she shivered in the cold and her tears clouded her eyes to the point where she couldn’t even see clearly enough to make her way across the street to the store. As the tears fell, she covered her face with her hands and began to sob. How could she have made a fool of herself over Nathan? How could she have thought he would have liked her? No one ever did. Nancy thought it was because most of them were jealous, but deep down, she knew why he liked Carrie. Carrie was a nice, quiet girl. She never fought with anyone, and she was smart. She did well in school without having her mother do her homework for her the way Harriet did for Nancy. And to top it off, she was pretty. Even though she never wore a fancy dress – never even had a real one ordered from the catalogue – she was pretty. No matter how hard Nancy tried, she could never measure up to that.

She felt a hand on her shoulder and angrily shrugged it away. “Leave me alone, Mother,” she said, biting off the words.

“It’s me,” a voice Nancy barely recognized, answered her instead.

Nancy turned to see James standing behind her next to the church steps. “James,” she said, sniffling. Quickly, she wiped her hands across her eyes, leaving streaks where the tears had been. The wind made her face feel cold where it was wet with tears and she hugged herself against the cold. “I – I just wasn’t feeling well so I came out for some fresh air.” She didn’t want anyone to know how hurt she truly was.

“I saw the whole thing,” James told her. “Nathan coming here with you and your family, going to Carrie, then you running out. I figured you needed some time, but then I thought you might need a friend.”

“You saw everything?” Nancy’s voice shook again. “Then you know. You know how I made a complete fool of myself. And there’s nothing I can do to make it better.” She choked back another sob.

“Nancy, it’s just a dance. There’ll be plenty more,” James said reasonably.

“It’s not just the dance,” Nancy said through her tears. “I just…I liked Nathan. Or I thought I did. And I thought maybe he’d like me. So I gave him things – cookies, candy, had him over my house – because I thought it would help him like me more. But even that didn’t work. No one will ever like me; I’m just not good enough.”

James put his hand on her shoulder. “Nancy, you’re plenty good enough. Sometimes, though, you just don’t let folks get to know who you really are. You cover it by…shutting them out.” James chose his words carefully. “Folks don’t get to know you that way. Even though it’s hard, you have to be open. You have to give them a chance sometimes.” When Nancy didn’t respond, James continued on, “And you can’t buy people’s affection with cookies and candy and stuff like that. You just have to be yourself, and give folks a chance to like you for who you are. Like I do,” he offered softly.

Nancy stared at him in disbelief. “Like you do what?”

“Like you,” he said softly. “You’re pretty, you’re funny, and you can be nice. You just don’t always let it show.”

“Really?” Nancy sniffled one last time, and smiled a teeny bit. “You really do like me?”

“Sure.” James shrugged. “It’s getting cold out here – don’t you want to go back inside now?”

Nancy turned her head. “I don’t want to go back in there. I don’t want to face everybody.”

“I’ll be with you,” James reminded her. “Nancy, would you dance with me?”

“You really want to dance with me?” Nancy asked him.

“Sure I do. Come on.” James led her back inside. Her tears forgotten once and for awhile, she couldn’t help but smile – a real, sincere smile this time – as James took her hand and led her into the crowd of dancing couples.

Chapter 11

The night passed quickly and all too soon, it was ten o’clock. Folks helped Reverend Alden rearrange the church and clean up, and then it was time to go home.

“Are you coming home with us, Belinda? It’s late,” Mrs. Stevens questioned her outside.

“Albert will walk with me,” she answered.

“Well, all right. But come straight home.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

As Belinda’s family left in their buckboard, Charles approached Albert. “Want us to give you and Belinda a ride, son?”

“No, Pa, we’ll walk. Thanks.”

After the Ingalls family left, Albert smiled at Belinda. “Well, I’ve never been offered a ride more often than tonight.”

Belinda laughed. “Me, either.”

“I think our folks are worried about us. Or something,” Albert began, as they started walking towards Belinda’s. She didn’t live far from town, so he wanted to make sure he didn’t waste a minute of their walk and got to say what he wanted to.

“Why would they be worried?” Belinda interrupted his thoughts.

Albert shrugged. “Maybe – maybe because we spend so much time together and they don’t know what to make of it.”

Taking a deep breath and wrapping her shawl more tightly around her shoulders, Belinda said, “Sometimes I don’t know what to make of it myself.”

“Me, either.” Albert took her hand and held it tightly. “I met you when I thought my life was over. And it wasn’t, because you helped me realize that I could go on. You were there for all my bad days, and you made the good days good. You – you’ve been the best friend I’ve ever had.”

Disheartened by his words, Belinda looked down at her feet. Then, lifting her head to look at the road that lay before him, she asked, “Is that all you think of me as?”

“No!” Albert said quickly. “No. You’re much more than that to me. It’s just – it’s just that I – ” he sighed then, worrying that what he said next might come out as wrong as the last thing he said. “I can’t imagine living a day without you. I think about you all the time,” he said softly.

“You do?”

“Yeah.” They’d reached Belinda’s house then, and stopped walking. Albert took both of her hands in his own. “Sometimes, I don’t always know exactly how I’m feeling, or if you’re feeling the same way.”

Belinda nodded slowly. “I understand,” she said. “I feel that way myself sometimes. It’s – it’s a little scary sometimes.”

Albert nodded. “It is. I just don’t want to risk losing you. I don’t want to ever not have you in my life. Maybe we can be more open to things in the future – you know, with – with seeing how we both feel,” Albert said awkwardly. “So we don’t lose what we have, but maybe sometime, we can have more than that?”

Belinda nodded slowly. She understood and even though she didn’t like it, she needed to give Albert space. “I know you’ve been through a lot,” she said. “And I know sometimes you’re afraid of losing someone again. But I’ll never leave you. As your friend or - or whatever else we may become," she said quietly.
"But I’ll give you the time you need.”

Albert hadn’t expected her to react that way; he hadn’t expected her to think he was still hurting from Sylvia – in fact, he hadn’t even thought of it himself until that minute. His heart pounded as he looked at Belinda standing before him. She looked beautiful in the pale moonlight. Her hair blew gently in the wind and her brown eyes sparkled. He knew then that he wanted to kiss her.

Instead, he leaned forward and gently kissed her cheek. “Thank you for being so understanding,” he said softly. “I’m sorry…” he began awkwardly.

“Don’t be,” Belinda interrupted. “It’s okay.” She turned the flower she was holding over in her hands and smiled lightly. “Thank you for this. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Okay.” As she turned and went inside the house, Albert lingered outside a moment longer. Why had he let her go? Why hadn’t he kissed her like he wanted to do? He knew that was what he wanted; he was just afraid and right now, his fear had cost him the one thing he thought could truly make him happy.

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:51 am

Chapter 12

Almost an hour had gone by when Albert arrived home. He opened the door quietly and tried to slip in, but his father met him by the bedroom. “Albert, you mind telling me where you’ve been?”

“Walking,” Albert said lamely. “Honest, Pa. I took Belinda home and then I went walking for myself for awhile.”

“In the dark, nearly at midnight on a school night?”

“Yes, sir,” Albert said. “I had a lot of thinking to do.”

Charles was silent. “Oh,” he said. “Well, get yourself to bed. You have school in the morning.”

“Yes, Pa. I’m sorry.” Albert climbed up the steps of the loft quietly, to avoid waking his brother and sisters. He was surprised to find Carrie and Cassandra with their eyes open, watching him intently.

“Did you kiss Belinda?” Cassandra whispered excitedly from her section of the loft.

“No,” Albert answered, leaning over her and smiling. He tucked her quilt more tightly around her and whispered so no one else could hear him, “Did Doug kiss you?”

“No!” Cassandra exclaimed as quietly as she could. A giggle escaped and she covered her mouth with her hands. “I don’t ever want to kiss anyone.”

Albert laughed lightly. “I’m sure Pa would be glad to hear that.” Then he looked at Carrie. “How about you, Carrie? Steal any kisses from Nathan?”

“Albert!” Carrie blushed as she admonished her older brother. “Of course not. But, I really liked dancing with him.”

“Yeah, I could tell. You looked happy,” he whispered. Then he nodded towards his and James’ area of the room. “I’m going to bed. You both better get some sleep, it’s really late.”

He tiptoed past the girls’ beds and pulled the curtain that divided the room closed. James looked asleep, but as soon as Albert sat down his bed, he opened his eyes and smiled. “You’re home late.”

“Yeah,” Albert answered. “I had a lot of thinking to do.”

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking too,” James told him.

“Yeah, about Nancy Oleson, I bet.” Albert stifled another laugh. “That was real generous of you to dance with her. The look on her face when Nathan went to Carrie was priceless. I guess she finally got a taste of her own medicine.”

“Don’t talk about her like that,” James said defensively.

Albert looked at him in surprise, then amusement. “Don't tell me you like her." He was silent a moment. "You do, don't you?"

“No! I don’t know. Maybe. It’s so confusing.” James sighed. “I never thought I did, but she is really pretty. It just doesn’t usually seem to matter because she’s always so mean. But when we were outside tonight, she was really nice. She was nice to me the whole night.” James grew thoughtful. “I think…I think she has a nice side to her, she just doesn’t let it show very often.”

Albert was stunned, but he knew by his brother’s tone he was serious. “I’m glad you had a good time,” he said. Then, “I know how confusing girls can be. I’m kind of going through the same thing myself with Belinda.” Pulling his nightshirt over his head, Albert threw back the covers on laid down.

James looked up at him from his mattress on the floor next to him. “Really?”

“Yeah. I don’t know if I like her, you know, as more than friends. I mean, after tonight, I’m pretty sure I do, but I think I ruined my chance for anything else.”

“What happened?” James asked curiously.

Albert told him briefly about how Belinda had been such a good friend to him over the last year, and how recently, he had wondered if they could be more than that, or even if that was what he wanted, then how he had finally realized it was what he wanted at the dance that night. He left out the part of wanting to kiss her; that was too personal and Albert didn’t think his brother would understand. So he was surprised to hear James whisper, “Did you kiss her?”

“No,” Albert said, and sighed. “Why is that all anyone asks?”

James shrugged his shoulders, then grinned. “Because it’s Valentine’s Day. And because we all know you want to.”

“Hey.” Albert pulled the pillow from behind his head and tossed it down at his little brother. James had to stifle a laugh. “I’m serious. Everyone but you has known that you like her, it seems.”

“Yeah,” Albert said softly, gazing at the ceiling boards overhead. “I was stupid,” he added so softly that James couldn’t even tell what he said.

“So what’s gonna happen with you two now?” James inquired.

“I don’t know,” Albert answered honestly. “We’ll stay friends, I guess. I hope so. Maybe see what happens in the future.” He sighed again, then turned over in his bed. “We better get some sleep.”

“’Night, Albert.”

“’Night, James.”

Chapter 13

All was quiet in Walnut Grove. Nancy Oleson tiptoed down the stairs of her house as silently as she could. She made her way to the kitchen for a glass of milk, but stopped, surprised when she saw her father standing by the counter with a glass of milk of his own in hand.

“Nancy,” Nels said when he saw her. “What are you doing awake? It’s late.”

“I couldn’t sleep,” Nancy answered honestly. “I came for some milk.”

Nels got out a second glass and poured some for her.

“Thank you,” she said, to Nels’ surprise.

“So, did you have fun at the dance tonight?” Nels had seen, along with everyone else, Nathan abandon Nancy at the door and Nancy reappear later with James.

“Yes, father, I did.” Nancy paused. “You were right, you know. About Nathan. Giving him things and inviting his family to dinner didn’t make him dance with me.”

In stunned silence, Nels watched his daughter carefully.

“I just want to apologize,” Nancy said honestly. “For how I acted.”

“I’m sorry you got hurt,” Nels said, almost in awe of his daughter. He had never heard her apologize for anything before – ever, in the time she had been living with the Olesons.

“I learned a lesson from it,” Nancy said. “That’s to never give someone things to make them like me. And if they don’t like me for who I am, then they’re just jealous.”

That sounded more like the Nancy he knew. But Nels couldn’t help but smile. “I’m glad you learned that lesson.”

“I’m going to go to bed now,” Nancy said.

“All right.”

Nancy turned away, then called, “Father? What do you think of James?”

Nels smiled. “I think he’s a very nice boy.”

“Good.” Nancy smiled back. “Good night, father.”

“Good night.”

As Nancy headed for the stairs, she paused in the storeroom, then impulsively, went behind the counter and grabbed the catalogue. She would pick a new dress from it before she went to sleep, and have Mother order it in the morning. She smiled to herself. She would choose a really pretty one, to impress James. She climbed the stairs slowly, turning the pages to look at them one by one. That Nathan White didn’t know what he was missing, she thought to herself. Yes, she would pick a fine dress – one that would make Nathan sick with regret of turning her down, and one that would make James like her even more than he already did.

Sorry for posting it in separate messages. It was too long for one so I tried to break it down. Thanks for taking the time to read it; I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and thank you for your nice comments :) What did you think of the "surprises"? LOL.

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Feb 14, 2007 2:32 am

Oh my gosh, talk about surprises!! Applause :flower:
I started reading and didn't stop so it's late at night but just had to know what happened next! :haha:

By the time you wrote that Nathan came to dinner but didn't give her the flower, I started to suspect it was for Carrie. Then when he went to Carrie at the dance and Nancy was crying I felt sorry for her actually! But I NEVER suspected James... what a twist!
Cheer Good job Christina
That was really sweet of James, I'm glad he was there for her.

I was expecting Albert & Belinda to kiss lol. I sort of was rooting for Albert in my mind telling him to just kiss her in my mind! LOL But I understand why you did it that way. Will there be a continuation for their story? Love

Anyway, now I'm going to bed, but just wanted to say it was a great story! Applause

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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Feb 14, 2007 7:55 am

I liked it a lot as well! :flower:
What a nice turn out. And it is so well written. Applause
I liked the surprises a lot, especially about Nancy and James and it was good to see that though Nancy did learn a lesson she still fell into her old habits in the end. Changing doesn't always work as fast as we'd like too.
And I also liked that Carrie was happy in the end.
Very nice story, good character description! I'd love to read more. :tapdance:
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Little House Lady
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Feb 14, 2007 3:13 pm

Thanks, ladies. Wave I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wasn't sure how everyone would react to James and Nancy, LOL. I actually got that idea from a fan fic I read on the site where Cheryl posts a lot of her stories, someone had posted a "reunion" type story where James had ended up marrying Nancy in later years. While I didn't intend on that, LOL, I thought it would be a fun twist if James was the one who ended up reached out to Nancy, since he always seemed to be the friendly type (with Gideon, etc). And I couldn't just let Nancy stay totally changed - the show just wouldn't have been the same if she wasn't a brat, LOL. I wasn't sure how much I liked the way the Albert - Belinda thing ended, but I didn't want everything to end perfectly, I thought it would have been unbelieveable that way, plus I wanted there to be some depth to their story...possibly for a continuation, Carol ;) But thank you for reading, and thank you for your very sweet compliments. Happy Valentine's Day! :twist:

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Sun Feb 18, 2007 2:38 am

Now, I know I posted a "great job, Christina" somewhere but its gone!

I have really enjoyed your story up to now and can't wait for it to continue. You are doing a wonderful job in it and I love to read the interraction between the other Ingalls kids. We didn't get that with the series!

It's going to be interesting, watching Nancy try to impress James!

"I would fight for you - I'd lie for you - walk the wire for you - ya I'd die for you..."
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Little House Lady
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Sun Feb 18, 2007 11:47 am

Thanks, Misti! I'm glad you enjoyed it, it was fun to write, LOL. I haven't decided if there will be a sequel or how I will go about writing one, but I am working on several more Albert/Belinda stories:cool:

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:14 am

Hi, Christina. Wave

I read your story last night. It was cute, and enjoyable. I didn't expect James to be so nice to Nancy. I didn't expect him or anyone to be nice to her at all. LOL!

Take care.

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Little House Lady
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Wed Mar 14, 2007 9:30 pm

LOL thank you reading, LM. I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Mon Aug 27, 2007 6:49 pm

Loved this. Great job.
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Thu Sep 06, 2007 6:32 pm

Thank you for reading :) I'm glad you liked it!

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Fri Sep 07, 2007 6:44 pm

Excellent job! The story is solid, the characters well depicted and the dialogs wonderful. Keep posting these. I enjoyed the reading greatly! :peace:


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Little House Lady
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PostSubject: Re: A Valentine Surprise   Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:08 pm

Thank you so much Vanesa :) I'm in the process of working on a sequel, but it's hard to find time to get it done. I will hopefully, put it up before too long! LOL thank you for your very nice comments :)

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."
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